Hurricanes hover off Mexico while Larry lashes Gulf

REUTERS , MEXICO CITY

Tue, Oct 07, 2003 - Page 7

Two hurricanes hovered menacingly off Mexico's Pacific coast on Sunday, while Tropical storm Larry lashed the Gulf coast, keeping two oil shipping ports shut due to intense rains and pounding waves.

Larry, the 12th storm of an active Atlantic hurricane season, hit land on Sunday morning, dumping heavy rains as it inched south. No injuries or damage were reported and the storm was expected to dissipate gradually, forecasters said.

"We evacuated 550 people to 17 shelters yesterday, but they will probably return home tomorrow," Crystiam Estrada of the Tabasco state government said.

Larry's center was around 60km east of the industrial city of Coatzacoalcos, home to the oil shipping port Pajaritos, which remained closed. A spokeswoman for Veracruz state Civil Protection Agency said there had been sporadic rain and the winds had died down.

"We haven't had to use any of the shelters we set up and no rivers overflowed. Some abandoned houses fell into the sea due to the strong waves, but that was the only damage," she said.

A ship bound for Texas with crude oil left from Cayo Arcas in Campeche state after the port reopened. Mexico's only Pacific coast oil export port, Salina Cruz, was also open.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Olaf moved northwest up the coast at almost 13kph, accompanied by maximum sustained winds of 12 kph and large, battering waves, the US National Hurricane Center said. Olaf and Larry were predicted to unleash heavy rains across swathes of western and eastern Mexico, which could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, forecasters said.

Olaf's center was around 195km south-southwest of Manzanillo in Colima state, and was forecast to continue in the same general motion in the next 24 hours. The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the Pacific coast from Punta San Telmo to San Blas.

A three-day chart showed the hurricane striking land tomorrow on the Sinaloa coast opposite Baja California.